Can you imagine a world where your ex has access to the things you do and knowledge of your personal experiences? A world where there is no stopping a sociopathic stalker from inserting themselves into your lives? A world of gross misinterpretation and perceived righteousness?
I can, because it is the world we are living in today.
Everyone is different, but when both my current husband and I separated and then divorced our previous spouses, the last thing we wanted was interaction with them. We had both moved on, and our new lives were just that--"OUR" new lives. Not lives that we wished to share with our past and our exes. So you can imagine the shock I felt when both of our exes had begun googling us, and worse yet, conspiring together to see what we were doing. The first time we realized this was happening was shortly after we had become engaged.
My husband and I were planning a wedding that was not only out of town for us but for the majority of our wedding guests. We had created a website for our guests in order to be able to communicate information to everyone quickly and efficiently. It was the setting for people to find hotels to stay in, directions, and a few random fun things. It was intended to be accessed only by our friends and family and I never considered the fact that you could google my name and find it. Plus who would do that, oh that's right, nosey people. It would have been unfortunate enough to know that they were googling our names and reading our private information, but they were also sharing it with friends and posting spiteful comments on the pages. Then taking it a step further they made plans (jokingly of course, so they say) to come to our wedding and ruin it. It was frustrating to say the least.
Then my ex made a statement in passing about some comment that he saw online by my sister on our wedding announcement. This was an announcement that was placed in the local newspaper and at that time I had not even viewed it online. For my ex to have seen it (no reason he should have known about it), and to have brought it up to me, personally I think that is a little creepy.
That was the beginning of our online problems with our exes. It went way past the point of curiosity. Terrible things were being said, comments being made to family and friends, links set up and attached to our work, name calling, the list to date is endless. All of this stemming from the fact that they are going online and searching for us. (If you haven't before, when you get a chance try googling yourself and you'll be amazed to see what is readily available for anyone and everyone.) When I have searched for myself I have found nothing there I would not share with others. However, personally I would prefer that our exes live their own lives and stop snooping into ours.
However, like I said in my last post, participating in social networking and being involved with things on the Internet is a choice. It is a choice my husband and I have made and one we continue to choose. Therefore, we have to understand that by making this decision we technically have to provide this kind of access. However, not everyone makes that choice.
So what can you do to keep your exes from accessing you online?
1) Private your profiles. Facebook specifically has privacy control settings that allow you to control how much others people can see, though in many cases the default setting is for your profile to be completely public. Make sure all of your settings are set to friends only. Mashable.com provides a complete comprehensive list and instructions on privacy setting for Facebook.
2) Block unwanted people. I think by now most Facebook users know about the block function. By blocking unwanted people--such as exes--you remove their ability to see anything at all (Facebook-related of course) that you have written, posted, etc. This can be an excellent way to prevent most intruders.
3) Delete mutual friends. This is difficult, and it can be a tough decision to delete people you consider to be friends. However, you will continue to allow your ex access by maintaining friendships on social networks with people who are also friends with your ex. Maybe not directly, but they can still ask friends to check up on you and give them information. They can still log on as your mutual friend (assuming the friend gave them access) and see your profile. Sometimes, your friends just accidentally share information. It is a common but unfortunate situation that happens when couples split and acquaintances that knew both of you now have to try to maintain separate but equal relationships with each of you. However, it is reasonable to assume that if you are true friends you don't need social networks to maintain the relationship, so why even allow for the opportunity to present itself. Recently I shared a little of my Facebook nightmare, which included deleting friends, in my post entitled, "Facebook and Other Social Networking Nightmares."
4) Don't post things online in your real name. This one is almost impossible to avoid for those of us who use the Internet for more than just socializing. However, try your best to use a different name anytime that you post a comment or anything online. Once you post items and you attach your name to them, you can be found with virtually any search engine such as Yahoo or Google.
5) Do not sign up for social networking sites that do not offer privacy options. Twitter is a social networking site built on the idea that you want to share things with the world. Therefore, a site like Twitter does not have the same privacy options as a site like Facebook. You can set up minimal privacy but not enough to keep people away who are desperate see you.
There are no guarantees that a person who is desperate enough will not find some items tied to you online, but these actions will prevent most.
***For the record, I believe my ex has moved on in life and no longer partakes in googling me. At least I hope that's the case.
Writer ~ Day to Day Woman
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